Outdoor Recreation Roundtable Applauds Biden Administration's Federal Council to Support Outdoor Rec

Building on the work of past administrations, Federal Interagency Council on Outdoor Recreation to resume its coordinating role among federal land and water management agencies

Outdoor Recreation Roundtable (ORR) praised today’s announcement by the Biden Administration on the revival of the Federal Interagency Council on Outdoor Recreation (FICOR). ORR president Jessica Turner will speak at the White House event later today with leaders from the Departments of Agriculture, Commerce, and Interior, as well as the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. ORR has been advocating for this convening body’s establishment since the beginning of the administration, meeting with the transition team, agency officials, and cabinet secretaries to discuss the importance of crossing silos and creating government efficiencies through this coordinated entity.

“Solidifying FICOR could not have come at a better time to support America’s public lands, waters, and $689 billion outdoor recreation economy,” said Jessica Turner, President of ORR. “It is critical that federal land and water management agencies work together to address important recreation issues around funding, overcrowding, and climate resiliency, as well as coordinate on the implementation of newly passed measures that will address the maintenance backlog, infrastructure priorities, and distribution of Land and Water Conservation Fund dollars. ORR and its members are read y to partner however we can on solving these challenges together, as well as collectively approaching the many opportunities that are ahead to help everyone access the outdoors and protect our natural resources.”

To help the public understand the significance of today’s announcement, ORR prepared an explainer document to provide context for the development of FICOR, its significance for outdoor recreation in the present moment, and opportunities and key topics it can address.  

FICOR was originally developed under the Obama Administration in 2011 and provided a forum for federal agencies to coordinate recreation management, improve access, and provide a better recreation experience on federally managed lands and waters. FICOR will continue its work on coordination of management policies to provide the public numerous recreation opportunities and help traditionally underserved communities access public lands and waters and the benefits of getting outside. All of this will support one of America’s most productive industries and the jobs and health and social benefits that go with it.

ORR Member Quotes about Today’s Announcement:

“With the public’s interest in fishing and t he outdoors remaining high, so is the need for sound management of our federal lands,” said Glenn Hughes, president of the American Sportfishing Association. “On behalf of the nation’s $128 billion recreational fishing industry, we thank the Administration for solidifying FICOR and look forward to working with it to support improved coordination among federal land management agencies and ultimately improve access to the outdoors.”

“With multiple federal agencies responsible for our nation’s outdoor recreation sites, reviving FICOR to streamline and improve the management of our public lands and waters is a commonsense solution and we thank President Biden and his administration for taking this action,” said Frank Hugelmeyer, president of the National Marine Manufacturers Association (NMMA) and chairman of ORR. “As more Americans continue to gravitate toward outdoor recreation as their primary means of rest and relaxation, it is imperative for Congress to ensure this council’s vital work is not interrupted under future administrations by enshrining FICOR in law.”

“We are thrilled to see the Biden administration’s continued commitment to the 4.3 million Americans who make a living from the $689 billion outdoor recreation economy,” said Lise Aangeenbrug, Executive Director of Outdoor Industry Association.

“This is especially important today when efforts to revitalize outdoor infrastructure are at an inflection point. Establishing a system of clear communication between key leaders of land and water management agencies is imperative to advance this mutual goal. As more and more people are participating in outdoor recreation than ever before, and extreme weather events are taking their toll on many fragile outdoor infrastructure systems, it is imperative that federal agencies are able to properly coordinate and allocate the necessary investments to meet this challenge. We are hopeful Congress will swiftly pass the Outdoor Recreation Act package to ensure FICOR will become permanent law, guaranteeing its ability to sustain itself regardless of who controls the levers of power in Washington.”

“It is absolutely critical that good public policy is spawned from a close connection with impacted constituencies” said Dan Forster, vice president and chief conservation officer f or the Archery Trade Association. “FICOR helps to ensure that vital recreational sectors like archery have a prominent voice in impactful discussion at the highest federal levels.”

“The revival of FICOR is critical to the $140 billion RV industry and the wider outdoor recreation economy, which has seen extraordinary growth as people prioritize their physical and mental wellbeing by getting outdoors,” said Craig Kirby, president and CEO of the RV Industry Association. “The increased popularity of RVing and all types of outdoor recreation means greater coordination is needed between federal land and water agencies to provide safe and enjoyable experiences on our national lands for generations to come.

FICOR will provide this coordination and ensure recently passed legislation, such as the Great American Outdoors Act, is implemented in a way that will increase access and provide incredible experiences at campgrounds throughout our public lands.”

“Outdoor recreation not only boosts the American economy, it boosts Americans’ health, but many trails and public lands suffer from maintenance backlogs and infrastructure work delays. Reviving FICOR can help federal agencies work together to address these needs, improving and expanding recreational access to millions of Americans,” said Erik Pritchard, president and CEO of the Motorcycle Industry Council, Recreational Off -Highway Vehicle Association, and Specialty Vehicle Institute of America .

“The power sports industry applauds the Biden administration’s commitment to helping more Americans enjoy the outdoors.” “The recreational boating industry thanks the Biden administration for reviving FICOR and assuring that our nation’s Federal Resource Agencies are prioritizing outdoor recreation,” said Matt Gruhn, President of the Marine Retailers Association of the Americas.

FICOR brings together key decision makers who will guide the Federal Government as they support and develop America’s outdoor recreation economy. This focus comes at a crucial time as we work to retain all of the new outdoor recreation enthusiasts we gained during the pandemic, and that is an all hands on deck effort.” “Maintaining our favorite places to recreate is a big task that requires partnerships and planning. Thank you to th e Biden Administration for strengthening FICOR and helping elevate the importance of coordinated, collective efforts in the stewardship of our lands and waters,” said Mary Ellen Sprenkel, president and CEO of The Corps Network. “As the outdoor recreation economy expands, it is critical that we ensure our parks and forests are accessible, can accommodate growing crowds, and are resilient to the effects of climate change. The Service and Conservation Corps community stands ready to support the collaborative work to improve and maintain America’s natural treasures and outdoor recreation assets.”

“Even as the challenges to accessible outdoor recreation are growing, the need for Latinos to breathe fresh air and enjoy time outdoors is greater than ever,” said Maite Arce, president and CEO of Hispanic Access Foundation. “Hispanic Access Foundation welcomes greater coordination between government agencies to address the barriers underserved communities face when recreating outdoors, such as the nature gap, overcrowding, and climate impacts on our treasured coasts and landscapes.”

“At CORE we work to research and build new and nationally accessible workforce development programs for the 5+ million jobs in the outdoor recreation economy,” said Lee Davis, executive director of Oregon State University’s Center for the Outdoor Recreation Economy. “CORE applauds the administration’s revival of FICOR and we are thrilled to have the opportunity to coordinate with agency leadership to address the critical workforce and research needs of the outdoor recreation economy.”

“We are so pleased to see FICOR come together to help support the long tradition of Americans recreating on their public lands,” said Adam Cramer, CEO of Outdoor Alliance . “Outdoor recreation is important to the millions of Americans getting outside each year and is important for local economic development, especially for rural communities. FICOR will help land managers work together to think about how to improve access to the outdoors for all Americans, address crowding, and promote and enhance outdoor recreation across all different kinds of public land. FICOR will also help the agencies collaborate to address climate change, fund critical programs, and better communicate with visitors, which will benefit everyone who gets outside on public lands and waters. Outdoor Alliance and our partners look forward to working with the committee and the agencies to improve and expand outdoor recreation access.”

“Everyone has a stake in the state of the outdoors. Americans across the country increasingly seek time outside for their personal wellbeing and renewal, and for opportunities to connect to their families and communities,” said Taldi Harrison, head of government affairs for REI Co-op. “As such, outdoor recreation remains an essential force in the U.S. economy, generating $689 billion in economic output annually across rural and urban communities. REI Co-op welcomes the Administration’s robust efforts to coordinate across federal agencies and convene diverse stakeholders t o support this growing economic sector and implement policies that advance more inclusive and equitable access to the outdoors, take real climate action, and meet ambitious conservation goals.”

“The #RecreateResponsibly movement has served to communicate important messages about the value of nature and outdoor recreation during a time of unprecedented uncertainty and record visitation to our treasured landscapes.” said Eugenie Bostrom, manager of the Recreate Responsibly Coalition . “Outdoor recreation is a catalyst for economic growth as well as an opportunity for healing for individuals and communities alike; the coalition has been vital to convening leaders in the outdoor recreation space in order to synthesize messaging and support collaboration since March of 2020, and we applaud the revitalization of FICOR as an important commitment from this administration to continue this collaborative and thoughtful approach.”

“Outdoor recreation is critical to America’s economy, environment, and health, which is why Access Fund is so thankful for the revitalization of the Federal Interagency Council on Outdoor Recreation,” said Chris Winter, executive director of Access Fund.

“Protecting America’s climbing and conserving public lands go hand in hand, and the revival of this council is an exciting opportunity to work with the president and federal land agencies to promote our vision for sustainable climbing. Access Fund will be there every step of the way to support the council’s work to make outdoor places more equitable and inclusive, to protect climbing on public lands, and to combat climate change and conserve public lands for future generations.”

“The American Mountain Guides Association is excited about the establishment of the Federal Interagency Council for Outdo or Recreation to assist with the implementation of the American the Beautiful Initiative and increase access for outdoor recreation, incentivize voluntary conservation, create jobs, and grow local economies – all of which are central to the work of the AMGA,” said Matt Wade, deputy director at the AMGA.

“The collaborative power of FICOR will help to increase opportunities for the public to visit America’s public lands with an outfitter or guide, which will in turn build a life-long constituency that can help conserve, connect, and restore lands and waters across the nation that sustain the health of our communities and power local economies.”

“Today’s FICOR announcement will help build upon the work underrepresented communities have been doing for years to achieve better access and infrastructure to the outdoors,” said Gerry Seavo James, coalition lead at Together Outdoors . “A welcoming outdoor experience is not guaranteed. The establishment of FICOR will allow our public lands agencies to better align on are as to improve the outdoor experience for all Americans and foster convening spaces for DEI groups to share the challenges and opportunities we know can better be solved for when we all work together.”

ORR and its members continue to call on the House of Representative to pass the America’s Outdoor Recreation Act to codify the establishment of FICOR in law and avoid future administrations halting the work of this important council.